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Wednesday, 25 March 1942

Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) . - I believe that every honorable senator will agree that the problems with which these regulations were intended to deal need immediate attention. Senator Spicer, who dealt with this matter at some length, pointed out to the Government many of the weaknesses that he saw in the regulations, and a number of difficulties which were . likely to occur in their administration. There canbe no division of opinion as to the need for these regulations. However, the remarks of Ministers and their supporters would lead one to believe that the Opposition was acting outside of its province even in suggesting amendments which would make the regulations more workable. I have no quarrel about the tribunals provided under these regulations. In the circumstances, the Government has made a wise decision and has provided for the comi table solution of problems that will arise. I am surprised that leases and other similar agreements will not be affected by these regulations. The Government admits that its intention was that such leases and agreements should be covered, but the message read by Senator Sampson made it abundantly clear that the wishes of the Government have not been fulfilled. In view of this, the Government would be wise to withdraw the regulations in order to insert the provisions which it intended that they should contain. Senator Spicer's suggestion that the matter be referred to a committee was reasonable. His speech was calculated to demonstrate to the Government the good feeling and desire of the Opposition to co-operate with the Government. But the Government has rejected his overtures, and, if it presses for a division on this motion and if the Senate should decide that the regulation be disallowed, applicants for relief from onerous contracts will find themselves without means of obtaining justice. This would be entirely the fault of the Government. In spite of the disabilities which exist, I am not prepared to vote for the disallowance of these regulations and the removal from people who are suffering hardship under contracts, of the opportunity to obtain immediate relief. The Opposition has drawn the Government's attention in unmistakable terms to the pitfalls and difficulties created by these regulations. I shall not vote for the disallowance of the regulations simply because it is claimed that the tribunals which they provide might be ineffective. That would be a grave reflection on stipendiary magistrates and county court judges, who adjudicate in all sorts of legal problems. Whilst there may be differences of opinion as between one magistrate and another, it has never been suggested that the people have no confidence in the judiciary. Furthermore, these gentlemen are sometimes sworn in as royal commissioners to inquire into cases which do not fall within the ordinary ambit of their duties. Therefore they must be competent to deal with applications under these regulations. The Opposition has made out a strong case in support of the granting of the right of appeal to applicants, and if the Government does not accede to Senator Spicer's request for the establishment of a committee to inquire into this problem, it will not be able to claim in the future that its attention has not been drawn to this disability.I shall not vote for the disallowance of the regulations because I believe that some form of tribunal is necessary to handle applications for relief, and, if the regulations were disallowed, no such tribunals would exist.

SenatorCOURTICE (Queensland; [10.28]. - Senator Spicer stated his case in favour of the disallowance of this regulation very thoroughly. But I have noticed that no honorable senators opposite have supported his arguments. His chief argument was that the regulations should be amended in order to provide for appeals in the ordinary way. The Government was fully seised of that aspect of the situation when the regulations were drafted, and the alteration that Senator Spicer proposedwould ob one of the moat serious that could be made. It would occasion very serious delay and expense and would delay the implementation of the Government's intentions, which should be put into effect expeditiously. I believe that the tribunals provided for in the regulations would deal with applications in a reasonable way and would remove a great deal of the hardship which is being occasioned by the present state of affairs in relation to contracts, leases, and rents. Senator Spicer's suggestion was not a good one, because it would involve a great deal of delay and expense. Therefore, his motion should be rejected by the Senate. If what Senator Sampson has said about leases be true - and I am surprised at his statement - the Government must make immediate provision to deal with that aspect of the matter. If necessary the Government could review the regulations. If, as Senator Sampson has said, no provision is made for policing contracts of that nature, other regulations should be promulgated to deal with that matter.

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